First Published: 2012-01-03

 

Offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb declares war on France

 

Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of armed Islamist group active in West Africa, threatens France with war.

 

Middle East Online

Six French nationals are held hostage in Sahel

BAMAKO - The Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of an armed Islamist group active in West Africa, has again threatened France with war in a video seen Tuesday by a journalist.

"We again declare war on France, which is hostile to the interests of Islam," Kheirou said in Arabic, wearing dark glasses and with his head wrapped in a turban. "The jihad (holy war) will be exported everywhere it is necessary and for God, we must be ready for anything."

The video also showed images of three Westerners -- a Spanish man and woman and an Italian woman - who were kidnapped late in October in a camp for Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf in southern Algeria.

That kidnapping was claimed by Kheirou's Movement for Unity and Justice in West Africa, which then emerged as a breakaway group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which originated in Algeria and now has bases in northern Mali.

The last part of the video was concerned with the ideology of the group and its ambitions, particularly "to impose sharia (Islamic law) across the whole of west Africa." Young black fighters were shown calling for "pure and tough" Islam.

Mauritania last week issued an international arrest warrant against Kheirou, also known as Abou Qumqum. The mandate also targetted three other Mauritanians, including Moustapha Ould Limam Chafi, an influential man in west Africa who has notably negotiated the release of Western hostages by AQIM.

All four men are accused of being "influential members" of AQIM, of financing terrorism and of supporting terrorist groups in the Sahel strip of northwest African nations on the southern edge of the Sahara.

This zone is difficult to patrol and monitor and AQIM has carried out many attacks on troops, kidnappings of Westerners and traffic of various kinds, including drugs.

Twelve Europeans, including six French nationals, are currently held hostage in the Sahel.

 

Moroccans go to polls for local, regional elections

King Salman, President Obama gloss over differences

Washington 'monitoring' reports Russian military is in Syria

Drowned Syrian boy buried as Europe grapples with 'migrant' crisis

IS jihadists blow up tower tombs at Syria's Palmyra

UN stops aid to 229,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan

Bahrain says 5 soldiers killed in southern Saudi Arabia

2,200 Austrian drivers join campaign to pick up refugees in Budapest

More than 1,000 migrants walk their way to Austria

Hungary shuts main border crossing

22 UAE soldiers killed in Yemen

At least 30 migrants feared drowned off Libya

British PM mulls help for Syrian refugees

EU ministers to meet on escalating migrant crisis

Iran submits peace plan to Syria's Assad

Father of drowned Syrian boy tells story of fatal journey

US energy firm gets tough on stalled Israel gas deal

Iran objects to Kuwait linking it to 'terror cell'

Cameron won’t accept more refugees for now

Mideast wars cause 13 million school dropouts

Turkey arrests '4 traffickers' over migrant toddler's death

Egypt sentences dozens of alleged Islamists in mass trial

Netanyahu defiant after Obama secures Iran deal support

Family of drowned child repeatedly displaced in Syria

Erdogan lashes out at EU over Med 'migrant cemetery'

Britain to Cameron: Do more for refugees!

German asylum dream for Iraqis hard to fulfill

Iran’s Basij militia puts on show of strength in Tehran

Death toll in IS Yemen mosque attack rises to 32

UN urges Lebanon parliament to elect president

Syria, Yemen conflicts on Obama-King Salman talks

Suicide bombers hit Shiite mosque in Yemen capital: witnesses

Netanyahu threatens to shoot stone-throwers

David Petraeus: Use Al-Qaeda fighters to battle IS

White House wins enough Senate support for Iran deal

12 Syrian migrants die off Turkish coast

Car bomb kills 10 in Syria regime bastion Latakia

Saudi top cleric slams Iran prophet movie

Iran police to confiscate cars of 'poorly veiled' women

Libya's Tripoli authorities undecided on joining peace talks

Lebanon protesters escalate “You Stink” campaign

Turkey transfers British reporters to new jail

Two Yemeni Red Cross staff killed

Qatar to begin enforcing key labour reform law from November

Syria war takes its toll on heritage riches